For Goodhues, ‘band family’ means a bit more

Photos by Brittney Lohmiller/The Herald
Jasper High School senior Jack Goodhue plays the saxophone with the marching band during Thursday's practice at the school. Jack and his younger brother, Jace, both are members of the band. Their father, James Goodhue, is the band's director.


JASPER — Veteran high school marching band players from across Dubois County praise the annual fall activity as a way to learn life skills and build strong friendships. The term “band family” gets thrown around a lot at practices and competitions, but it takes on a different meaning for the Jasper Marching Wildcats’ Goodhue family.

Longtime Band Director James Goodhue and his sons, Jack and Jace, add a new dimension to the familial atmosphere marching band fosters. And it’s not necessarily what you’d think.

Reflecting on it in an interview, James said he can go a long time without going out of his way to watch his sons.

“During the show or during practice, I’m not even really aware I have a kid out there,” he said.

And though he doesn’t hone in on his boys — they both play alto saxophone — when they’re grinding away at practice or nailing the routine while performing, he does frequently notice them when the music stops.

Getting the chance to see them interact with friends and grow in their natural environment is a window into the life of a teenager that not every parent has. Some have no idea what their kids are really like, he said.

“The best parts about it are just me getting to see them outside of home,” James said. “Just how they are with people, like their friends and other students.”

Jasper will compete Saturday at 2:44 p.m. at the Indiana State School Music Association Open Class B semistate contest at Pike High School in Indianapolis. The Marching Wildcats have qualified for the ISSMA state finals every year since 1990, and would continue that streak with a top 10 finish at Saturday’s 20-band event.

For James, being Jack and Jace’s leader has its pros and cons. Dad hopes they see how hard he works and how much he loves his job. He hopes they absorb the idea that they can pursue careers they love, too. Along the way, they’ve seen him be funny, thoughtful and smart.

But they’ve also seen him at his worst — a side James believes they may have never seen had he not been their director. They’ve seen him chew out their fellow band members and lead with an intensity that can become overwhelming, similar to an athletic coach.

In a separate interview, Jace, a sophomore, said it’s actually kind of fun hearing him yell at other people.

“But you don’t really think much about it,” he said of his dad. “Because he does a good job keeping this and his home life separate and doesn’t mix in.”

Jasper High School sophomore Jace Goodhue, right, plays the saxophone with the rest of marching band during Thursday's practice at the school.

Jack, a senior, added: “Everybody thinks that he forces us to be in it (marching band) or something, or he’s a lot harder on us ... But he doesn’t look at us more than anybody else or anything. It’s just like having a teacher that gives you money sometimes.”

The kids do occasionally act as a liaison between the band and their leader, pointing out things to him that band members are upset with like going over scheduled practice times or delegating duties related to the band’s tarp prop.

Outside of high school band, James said he and his wife, Heather, don’t push music on their sons. They don’t make Jack and Jace practice their instruments at home, take lessons or listen to classical pieces. James said it wouldn’t have been a big deal to him if they hadn’t joined the group, but added it has been nice having them there.

The real connecting has always happened far away from band. When Jack and Jace were younger, they’d play football with James in the Goodhues’ front yard, putt on miniature golf courses across the tristate and make trips to claw machine games throughout Jasper. Now, James and Jack bond by driving for miles during NFL season and listening to the Miami Dolphins play on satellite radio. James and Jace spend time playing basketball together and going on late night snack runs with their favorite music playing as the soundtrack.

Passing his boys in the Jasper High School hallways and seeing them smiling and laughing is a bonus that James said most parents don’t get.

Overall, he believes marching band does give kids a place to shine. It brings together students and parents of various financial backgrounds, races and religions.

Drum Major Vince Obermeyer said that while the 146 members of the group don’t always get along because of the intense nature of the activity, the overall attitude of this year’s group is more friendly than in years past.

“It seems like we get along better,” he said. “Which, if you’re going to look back at high school memories, you’d probably much rather remember that you had a lot of fun with friends than (contest) placing.”

Herald file photo
James Goodhue and his Marching Wildcats will compete Saturday at 2:44 p.m. at the Indiana State School Music Association Open Class B semistate contest at Pike High School in Indianapolis.

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